Being prepared for serious business

Thursday, November 1, 2001

Nov. 1, 2001

Dear Leslie,

Last night in dreamland a woman said the time had come to get serious. Someone with a British accent had told her the next 72 hours are going to be crucial. She asked if I had any ideas about what we'd need. Assuring her that she knew what was needed better than I did, I dozed off in a different direction.

The insomniac next to me in bed began preparing our anti-terrorist emergency preparedness kit.

These days DC awakens in the middle of the night to a terrorist nightmare that doesn't seem anywhere near ready to end. She turns on the TV and tunes to the BBC because she thinks it's the voice of reason in the network choir of sensationalism.

Now even the BBC is saying "Watch out."

In Southeast Missouri we live with the seasonal threat of tornadoes and the possibility of a major earthquake erupting out of the New Madrid Fault. But the natural world thrills her more than scares her. Only people with hatred in their hearts have convinced her that the danger now is real.

DC is scared. There is nothing reassuring I can say that Bush, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft aren't saying. My arms cannot really protect her. They can only surround her.

As mottoes go, the Boy Scouts' "Be Prepared" is dandy. It implies taking action to be as ready as possible for whatever may come along.

Obviously, none of us was ready for Sept. 11, not just in terms of taking the necessary precautions but more so because what happened was then incomprehensible to us. We have been reminded that barbarism has not gone out of fashion. We need to be prepared.

Typically, DC is shopping for things we'd need if terrorists blow up a nuclear reactor, spreading a Chernobyl-like cloud of poison across the United States. She prefers to prepare for worst-case scenarios.

Her list includes a water purifier, water, rice, a tarp, flashlights, matches, a battery-powered TV and radio. We already have the kerosene heater, camping stove, a tent, a bit of cash, dog food, bird food, and two trash cans with wheels.

The trash cans are for stowing all our emergency supplies in case we have to move suddenly.

I complained to DC that the competitors on the "Survivor" TV show get one luxury item. She piffed at the idea. "This is serious business."

Here's an image: Amid some type of Armageddon, three dogs on leashes pulling the two of us down the street while we try to balance three cages containing nine birds and drag two trash cans behind us.

I don't think we will ever need any of these emergency supplies, but doing something to protect ourselves and our families counters the frustration and anger and edginess many are feeling right now. We are like a castle under siege. The attackers have burned our twin parapets and are hiding somewhere, making plans to get at us again.

A 10-pound bag of dog food appeared on the back porch this morning. Alongside was a Groovy Grape combination CD player, radio and cassette player. I love America.

Love, Sam

Sam Blackwell is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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